Tiffany Farber is a solo practitioner who has been practicing law since 2008. As someone who has been through transition in her career, she understands the challenges lawyers in this situation face.
How come we only expect kids to have imaginations? Adults need them too! The best way to use your imagination as an attorney is by channeling someone whom you admire. When you are feeling exasperated, lost or frustrated, this technique never fails.
A friend once told me a story about a crazy experience he had. He was given access to a cabin one winter weekend. It was a freezing night and as he turned the key to the front door, it broke. Now, picture yourself in this situation. You have no way of getting inside other than through a door or window, and it’s mighty cold outside. If you break a window, you are in for a cold night and will likely owe your friend some dead presidents. Do you know what my friend did in this situation? He thought to himself, “What would MacGyver do?” I kid you not. There was a shed next to the cabin and, wouldn’t you know it, he found some doo-dads in there that helped him get inside the cabin. As crazy as it is to believe, sometimes it helps to step outside of your body when you’re in a hard or uncomfortable situation.
Now, I understand that there are few uses for dental floss and explosives in a courtroom or client meeting, but there is definitely a place for creativity. Maybe you know a particularly adept attorney. Maybe you have studied her moves or picked his brain. Why not channel that person when you are faced with something difficult? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be yourself, but aren’t we who we are because of the people who have influenced our lives?
The first time I went to court, I was pretty nervous. So, I thought about my mom. Nothing rattles her, and I mean nothing. I figured that nothing should rattle me either. I pictured myself as her as I prepared for my hearing, and my nerves were eased a bit. If you have a particularly important interview coming up, why not try to picture someone whom you find to be articulate and thoughtful? Think about how that person would handle themselves, and try to emulate his or her behavior. I don’t think that is disingenuous at all. At the end of the day it’s you performing, but you are a person with more dimensions when you incorporate the qualities of people whom you admire.
Actors do this all the time, children do it, and athletes do it too. Modeling your behavior after role models is important, and I don’t think you should ever stop searching for people to look up to. In life, there will always be people who do something better than you. Instead of being jealous of them, try to emulate their behavior. Try to picture what they would do, or how they would think, in a situation. It really helps when you feel stuck.
This week’s challenge is to step outside of your skin. I think you will find it more comfortable than you would imagine.